Weddell Power Station is located in the northern territory of Australia. It was commissioned in 2008 and currently generates and supplies 84MW of power to the Darwin-Katherine region. It is the largest power project in the northern territory. It is owned and operated by the Power and Water Corporation, a state owned electricity, water and sewerage services provider.
Weddell power station has been built as part of an $814m power and infrastructure investment programme initiated by the Northern Territory Government in 2007. It has been constructed to meet growing electricity demands, with a provision for future extension.
The power station currently has two 43MW units in operation and a third unit of the same capacity is being added. The new unit will increase the total generation capacity of the Darwin-Katherine grid to 440MW. It is expected to be synchronised to the grid by 2012.
With the addition of the third unit, the total cost of the plant amounts to $126.6m. The integration of a stand-alone control system is also underway at the plant.
Power station project details
The Weddell power plant broke ground in 2007 with the first two generators coming online in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The two units contribute about 30% capacity to the Darwin and Plamerton grids. The station is also intended to provide a back-up power supply to the Katherine grid when required.
The plant has a life span of 25 years. It emits only half the amount of greenhouse gases when compared to conventional coal-fired power stations.
It runs on natural gas sourced from Darwin LNG Plant and is equipped with two LM6000PD SPRINT, aero-derivative gas turbines, transformers, control room and tanks.
The existing plant has a stand alone control system for each unit. The Power and Water Corporation is integrating the control systems of the existing and the upcoming third unit into the Yokogawa CS3000 system at Channel Island Power Station.
The integration will provide a common control system for the power station and also a uniform control interface for the operating staff at Channel Island Power Station.
Development of the Australian power generation facility
The development of the Weddell power plant involved the services of more than 40 territorial companies. The existing natural gas-fired gas turbine generators were provided by GE. The company will also supply the third unit in 2011.
GE subcontracted the balance of plant design, supply, installation and commissioning to United Group Infrastructure. The station platforms and steel structures were manufactured by the OGM Engineering for United Group Infrastructure.
The most challenging part of the construction was the installation of communication network system. The network optic cable failed to provide path redundancy which is essential to provide a seamless communication network.
Optical fibre cables could not be added because of environmental issues and restricted project costs. CommTel could however successfully design and integrate the communications network into the Weddell power plant.
McConnell Dowell was involved in the construction of the gas pipeline from Darwin LNG plant to the Weddell power station. Ausurv provided the survey consultancy services to McConnell Dowell.
Provecta will integrate the stand alone control systems. The scope of work includes design and installation of four new CS3000 controllers, two new operator stations and a new engineering work station. It also includes expansion of the ExQuantum historical data sever.
Construction of the Weddell power station
The project required the laying of Amadeus gas pipeline and construction of communication infrastructure. The total cost of the gas pipeline and communication infrastructure amounted to $1m.
Gas is sourced from the Blacktip field located 110km offshore of northern Australia in the Bonaparte Basin. It is transported to Amadeus basin through a 108km long gas pipeline from the field.
The Power and Water Corporation invested $500,000 to construct a 1,630km long gas pipeline from the Amadeus basin to Darwin LNG plant and further to the Weddell power station.
The Amadeus gas pipeline supplies gas to power stations from LNG plants situated in Darwin, Katherine and other locations in the northern territory.
The Amadeus gas pipeline is owned by APA Group, the largest natural gas infrastructure business of the northern territory.
A new long-term gas transportation agreement has been signed between APA Group and Power and Water Corporation.